A short story of Frances and me

A wee story… They say you should always be wary of meeting your idols. When I was a journalism student (back in the 90s…) Frances Whiting was my absolute inspiration. Mum and I would each take turns reading Fran’s weekend article, variously chuckling or tearing up, and every time I thought “this is what I want to write”. Human stories, character stories, small town stories, big emotion stories.

Jo and Frances at Brisbane Square Library

Sadly for me, there are very few opportunities to make a lifelong career in journalism (especially that kind) but that wasn’t the path for me. I took my skills and I did write all those types of stories… just really, really long versions in novels 🙂

Frances and Jo at Annie’s Books at Peregian

When Fran’s book, Walking on Trampolines, came into the world, I rushed to Annie’s Books on Peregian to see Fran in person (sorry Fran, that photo is a truly awful one of both of us… luckily we just keep getting better with age 😊). This was the moment for me to meet my writing idol and inspiration! Was she just as warm and interested and focused as she was in the paper? Gasp!

Of course she was.

Years later, I attended the Burdekin Writers Festival and was lucky enough to be billeted with a wonderful host family AND Fran AND Susan Johnson! My gosh… I was such the new kid on the block compared with these two veteran writers. Were they good to me? Exceptionally. Did they let me eat more than my fair share of homemade cheesy potato cakes each morning? Yep. And did Fran offer me targeted fashion/style advice that neither shamed nor belittled me but actually made me feel more empowered? YES, she did. (And anyone who knows me knows I NEED fashion/style advice because I live in yoga pants and horse t-shirts.)

Last week, while touring for my 10th book with Phoenix Rose, Fran hosted me in conversation and I have to say that more than once I thought… wow, maybe I’m finally a real author now…

Thank you, Fran, for the warm welcome, taking care of my heart, and allowing me a beautiful full circle moment. You and your writing make the world a better place, reaching more people than you know. x